There's no forever in politics

HARARE - The first ever African president I ever saw being inaugurated was Kenneth David Kaunda of Zambia in 1964.

He was in power until 1991, when he lost an election to the pint-sized former trade unionist, Frederick Chiluba.

There was no limit to how long Kaunda would have remained in power.

Kaunda was initially so flabbergasted with his defeat he initially cried FOUL!

By then I had returned to Zimbabwe, where Robert Gabriel Mugabe was beginning his own term as first prime minister of the former Southern Rhodesia.

When the country introduced a republican president, there was no limit to how long he would serve. 

Mugabe has thus been in power for 34 years, one of the longest-serving leaders in the world.

So far there is no indication when the 91-year-old will leave the seat.

There was no limit to how long he could serve.

The suggestion or suspicion is that he would arrange for his second wife, Grace Mugabe, to take over as president.

The feeling among many members of the ruling party, Zanu PF, is that Mugabe has so tightened his grip on the party that not many members would prevent this idea being accepted.

The very thought has frightened many citizens.

Primarily, the general feeling is that Mugabe has failed to run the country as democratically or even as economically sound as he ought to have done. Then there is the element of corruption in high places, which has lost him many supporters and has given advantage to the opposition parties, particularly, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mugabe raised the stakes with his dismissal from the party of a key member of his  hierarchy, Didymus Mutasa.

There have been other dismissals, recalling the breakup between Mugabe and one of his key allies, Edgar Tekere, who later died of natural causes.

Mugabe’s breakup with key allies recalls other political breakups among allies on the continent.

Kaunda broke up with a long-time ally, Simon Kapwepwe, who went on to form his own party.

That party did not make any impact on the  political stage. Kapwepwe himself died of natural causes while watching TV in his daughter’s house.

Even Tekere failed to make an impact with his own party, formed after he had quit Mugabe’s party to form his own.

This could go back to even the partnership between Julius Nyerere and Oscar Kambona, who later died in exile in the UK.

In Malawi, It was Kamuzu Banda who held sway, from the beginning, getting rid of former allies, such as Henry Masautso Chipembere, Orton Chirwa and the Chisiza brothers.

But the price Kamuzu paid was, in the end, very high. When he was defeated by a businessman named Bakhili Muluzi he lost everything, perhaps including his eyesight and the physical ability to walk.

I saw him for the last time when he was being introduced to a group of African journalists in Blantyre.

“What are all these white people doing here?” he asked.

His aide took time to explain that the journalists were all black.

By then Kamuzu had to be helped to walk.

It was an ignominious end for a man who had ruled his country with an iron fist.

Today, there may be Malawians who remember Kamuzu with some fondness. But there can be no doubt that when he eventually ended up in a grave, many of his compatriots breathed a sigh of relief.

Although they were grateful to him for having helped free them from colonialism, he had also subjected them to a horror that was almost as heinous as that of the settlers.

It’s something for the people haggling over power in Zimbabwe today to remember.

    Comments (9)

    Madzimai eZANU PF akati pamberi navaMugabe chete forgetting kuti ivo kana varume vavo can also ruie Zimbabwe.When the oppressed are oppressed for a long time, they enjoy the oppression.Only God can convince the oppressed of their fate.

    Zvichapera - 28 February 2015

    Mugabe would have gone a long, long time ago if it was not for the breath-taking incompetence of Tsvangirai and MDC.

    wilbert Mukori - 28 February 2015

    Bill Saidi you are whistling in the grave yard. You cab continue if you still have the energy!!! You are younger than Bob but he is still going strong!!!

    godfrey gudo - 2 March 2015

    Politics is not forever but Royalty is forever. God bless the King.

    Buffalojump - 4 March 2015

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